Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)

No Safe Haven: The Challenge of using Immigration Law to Enforce Human Rights

Thursday, April 9, 2020

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Watch on Watson's YouTube Channel.

This lecture will be held virtually through Zoom. 

In this lecture, Jamie Rowen will discuss her ongoing project that examines the work of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, a unit within the Department of Homeland Security that is tasked with finding and removing admitted immigrants who may have committed international crimes in their countries of origin. Since its creation, the Unit has secured the deportation of hundreds of individuals for being potential war criminals. The project provides the first study of the Unit as an example of the increasing convergence of domestic immigration and criminal law.

The pathologies within these different bodies of law are now enhanced with the integration of international criminal law into this domestic regime. Rowen traces the history of this unit with a focus on two different types of cases—those that focus on high level vs. low level perpetrators—in order to point out the challenges of using domestic immigration law related to misrepresentation on immigration forms to enforce international criminal law goals. This project draws on in-depth, face-to face interviews with individuals who work for this unit, both in the administration of the Unit and lower-level investigators, as well as phone interviews with a dozen lawyers who have worked on cases related to this unit. Under this project Rowen and colleagues have created a database with publicly available information about the individuals who have been deported.

This event is part of the Human Security Seminar Series. 

Human Security Seminar Series

Jamie RowenAssociate Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science, UMass Amherst